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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  February 24, 2016 12:00am-12:41am EST

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the fact that he also seemed to love texas, believe it or not from virginia he remarked once that if he did not live in virginia he would probably want to be a texan. i like to spend a couple of minutes remembering this great man and the contribution he has made tarnation. beyond his incredible resume justice scalia was a devoted husband of more than 50 years to moraine. he is a dedicated father to nine children and i grandchildren grandfather to more than 30 grandchildren. he was not only a family man which i think he would've considered his most important job but he was a role model for lawyers, judges judges and scholars and those who love the constitution. interestingly about justice
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scalia perhaps he could teach all of us a little something these days, he was quick to build up relationships with people who had different views from his own. he fostered a environment of friendship on the court. it is interesting to read as we learned earlier with his relationship with whom he cannot have disagreed more on the supreme court on the key issues the court confronted. people like justice ginsburg for example. we all know he was a gifted writer and had infectious wit. justice scalia most important legacy is his life's work and his call for us to return to our constitutional first principles. justice scalia strongly believe that words mattered, i think that's one reason why he quickly became one of the most memorable writers on the court i1 of the best of the court's history. he believed the word written in the constitution matter because that was the only thing that the
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states voted on when they ratified the constitution. those were the words with which the american people chose to govern themselves and he tried for decades to give them for center fight against an attempt to say that what we really don't have a written constitution, we have a living constitution that should be reinterpreted based on the times when indeed the text had not changed one bit. his original interpretation of the constitution and that he viewed the court as a place to vindicate the law and what it meant, not express the preferences of five justices. justice scalia was one of the most fervent advocates for the rule of law in a written constitution. i many instances he made the important point that if the supreme court was viewed merely as a group of nine individuals making value judgments on how
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her country ought to be governed under our constitution, that the people may well feel that their values were equally as valid as those on the potomac. given ten year a seat on the texas supreme court and it was his view of the text of the constitution and not involving value judgments over time that you protection to our democracy. just a school it strongly committed to the separation of powers this is fundamental to the constitution that james madison said we need a bill of rights to the first congress because he thought the separation of powers and the division of responsibilities would be protection enough, because they view the concentration is power, the opposite of separation of powers as a threat to our very liberty. i think he said the very definition of tyranny and a concentration of powers.
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so he saw the separation of powers was nothing less than the most important guarantor of our liberty, the most important shield against tyranny. justice scalia wrote, without a secure structure separated powers are bill of rights would be worthless. i guess you'd have to say he is not a federalist by temperament and view. this recognition of the importance of the separation of power cannot be more important at this point in our history because of barely a month goes by when this administration has chosen to undermine this basic constitutional precept. by exerting itself and climbing authorities. justice cooley understood what was at stake, he believe that
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every blow to the separation of powers harm to the public in liberty itself. as justice cooley wrote in a case in which the court unanimously struck down the president's violation of the constitutional doctrine of separation of powers he said we should therefore take every opportunity to affirm the privacy of the constitution's enduring enduring principles over the politics of the moment. he continued warning against aggrandizing the president beyond its constitutional powers. that is what justice scalia did time and time again. that is what he reminded all of us about, the importance of the doctrine and separation of powers that adheres to the text of the constitution and not to make it up as you are going along for expressing value judgments that cannot be related in the original understanding of the constitution. so mr. president, the question
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arises that when the president makes nomination to fill the vacancy left by justice scalia's death what is the constitutional responsibility of the united states senate? it is true under our constitution the president of the united states has a unique role in the authority to make a nomination to fill this vacancy. it is also true the senate has an essential and unique role to play as well. the founding generation regarding the senates role and the important process as quote a critical protection against and nothing less. that means the united states senate has a separate and unique role to play , and certainly a coat equal role with that of the president in the process to fill vacancies on the courts. we are not, and the constitution
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never comprehended we would ever be a rubber stamp for the president of the united states. another president, president president obama would love to nominate somebody and have his months of office as he is heading out the door perhaps fill this vacancy which in the case of justice scalia was filled for 30 years. far extending resident obama's term of office. that is not what united states is we are coequal branch of government and we have an independent and separate responsibility from that of the president. he can nominate anybody he wants. it is up to the senate and its collective wisdom whether to grant consent. when we say that we made that if the senate did not play its unique role, liberty liberty itself would be weekend and destitute some strength in. as i said before the american people can and should have a voice in the selection of the
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next supreme court justice. in the waning days of this presidential election year after voters have already cast ballots in primaries, with republican candidates and democratic candidates and as caucuses occurring even today as i speak in nevada, i believe giving the american people the choice and who selects the next justice of the supreme court is very important. i think it elevates what's at stake in this next election this november. that means that this vacancy should not be filled at this time by this president. i yield the floor. [inaudible] [inaudible] >> mr. president, i came to the
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floor today because i am stunned i just learned that the republicans haven't announced to the country that they won't even call a hearing should and when president obama does his job and nominates a replacement for justice scalia. we send our sympathy, heartfelt to his family. i do not know where the republicans have come up with this notion that this is the right thing to do. if you look at the strict constitutionalist you know they are reading the constitution. unless they are phony this is
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what the constitution says, the president shall nominate and with the advice and consent of the senate shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls and judges of the supreme court. now where in this doesn't say except in an election year? as a matter fact we have acted 14 times in election years. mr. president, whoever whoever is a strict constructionist should read the constitution. article two, section 2, clause 2, i'm going i'm going to read it again. the president shall nominate and by and with the advice of the senate shall appoint ambassadors of the public ministers and consuls and judges of the supreme court. it does not say the president can nominate but nobody has a job to do. oh no, it says the same sentence
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and with the advice and consent of the senate. to have such a press conference as i understand, i didn't see it myself but it has been reported to me that there has been an announcement that the republicans won't even hold a hearing goes against this constitution. i would not be surprised if there is a lawsuit brought by the people of this country, 70% of them believe that we have an obligation. we have an obligation. nowhere in the constitution doesn't say it is too late for the president to nominate, guess what? the republicans keeps saying we need an elected president why have good news for them, this president was elected twice and he has about a year left. guess what, i'm not quite to run again but i am here now, i want to work. i do not take this job to have a year off and not worry about working in my last year.
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nowhere in the constitution doesn't say by the way, don't don't advise the consent if it is a democratic president in his second term. it does not say that. so if you consider yourself a strict constructionist and pay attention to this, and and i am proud that several republicans on the other side some baloney we don't go along with that, good for them. more should do it. it doesn't say in the constitution you only advice and consent if it is a republican president with a republican senate. again, the senate has repeatedly over the years considered the supreme court nominees and both election years and in the final year of a president's term. justice kennedy served now,
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fellow californian was nominated by president reagan in 1987. i was in the house and i didn't have anything to do with it but i sure watched it. kennedy was confirmed by democratic senate during reagan's last year in office. my republican friends say all but the senator said this about it, that senator said that, joe biden said this. it doesn't matter doesn't matter what people say, it's what we do. fourteen times in history we have voted on judges in an election year. so my republican colleagues who suggest that this process cannot be done before president obama leaves office are fooling themselves. history has disproven that and the constitution is going to chastise them, whoever says i want a day constitution. this is very clear, it absolutely is. i guess i have a message for my
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republican friends here. pretty simple, do your job. do your job. if you are afraid to do your job and do something else with your life. if you do not want to do your job because you are worried someone moderate make it through that make your arguments. if you want to vote no vote no. but to hold a press conference and to say you won't even hold a hearing is outrageous. mr. president, every day in towns and cities across this country americans show up for work and they do their jobs. they don't call up their bosses and say i'm you know i don't feel like doing this today i'm healthy, fine, i'm well but you know what i do not want to do my job. they would be fired. and they should be.
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do your job. you are elected to do your job. now the american people, they show up for their job they do their job, it's as simple as that. the justice of the supreme court they show up and they do their job every day. justice scalia didn't, they'll do it, they hear cases, they write opinions. the supreme court is the last stop on the justice train. to be able to function as our founding fathers in the united states constitution intended they need a full bench with all nine justices. the supreme court they justices is not a functioning court. let's look at the republican heroes, ronald reagan.
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we always hear them say ronald reagan, i was proud to serve in the house during ronald reagan's term. i did not agree with him on a lot of things but guess what, i agree with him on this. you know he said. i look forward to prompt hearings conducted in the spirit of cooperation and bipartisanship. i of cooperation and bipartisanship. i will do everything in my power as president to assist in that process, president ronald reagan, november 12, 1987. what did he say? did he get up and say oh it's an election year, which was, no. no. kennedy was voted on and an election year and president reagan made the case, this is what else he said, ronald reagan said every day that passes with the supreme court below the full
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strength and parents the people's business and that crucially important body. let me say that again. ronald reagan who is pushing for a vote on a supreme court in an election year said the following, every day that passes with the supreme court below full strength impairs the people's business and that crucially important body. now, i don't get where the republicans are coming from. they are disregarding ronald reagan, their hero, they are disregarding their constitution that they say is there shining star of their being, which of their being, which it should be for all of us. and they stand there today completely announce they outs they are not even going to hold a hearing on a nominee, before they they even know who he or she is. what is that about? i am truly stunned.
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i thought i had seen everything, but i have never seen this. you show up, you do your job. now, i'm going to show you a few other quotes of people who are very important to this conversation and what they are saying about not moving forward. how about sandra day o'connor, what an incredible woman, appointed by ronald reagan, the the third female ever appointed to the supreme court. and a republican, what did she say? i think we need somebody there now to do the job and let's get on with it. she just said that ten days ago or less. and she partisan? i don't think so. she is speaking from the heart.
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she is speaking from her soul. she is speaking from experience. she knows she knows the court has important cases before it and it will be tied if we do not have a court at full strength. here's what she said again, republican sandra day o'connor, esteemed member of the supreme court, ronald reagan nominee. i think we need somebody there now to do the job and let's get on with it. i'm going to show you to mark quotes from scholars here. this is from the american constitution society, quote a vacancy on the corporate year and half which which is what the republicans want, at least a year and a half would mean many instances when the court cannot resolve the split among the circuit, there are be the very undesirable results of the same federal law would have different meanings in various parts of the
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country. that's the american constitution society. then we have another quote i want to share with you, the director of the byron white center at the university of colorado, it would extensively shut the supreme court down she says for two years. it would be be a monumental crisis for the development of the law and the need to resolve large, legal questions. it would it would essentially shut down the courts for two years, it would be a monumental crisis for the development of the law and the need to resolve large legal crisis. at mr. president it's not as if this large legal questions are at stake, right now the supreme court is set to look at some incredibly important cases. they have real effects on our people. this isn't some argument, and it's the law. this is real stuff.
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the cases can't wait to and it doesn't matter what side you are on these cases, they have to be resolved. how about voting rights, i don't don't think there would be a difference of opinion here in this chamber that this is what makes this country great and special, the right to vote, the responsibility to vote. we we have many states and it put forward the voter id laws, they need to be told whether they're fair or unfair, whatever side you come down on. we need a court to look at voting right cases and see who the eligible voters are. affirmative action, they're going to re-examine that case, whatever side you are on, it has to be decided. workers rights, the court will
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decide the impact of the ability of a union to represent millions of working americans. whatever side you are on you may be on one side, there needs to be a decision. otherwise you'll have different states with different laws and it makes no sense. this is one nation under god, that is why we have a u.s. senate and a u.s. house, a u.s. president and a u.s. supreme court because we are one nation. these issues have to be decided. there is one on employee discrimination, how do people get their day in court if they are being discriminated against? it doesn't matter what side you are on, the fact is there needs to be a decision. women's health, health, there is a big case on women's health as to whether or not workers can get birth control. again, whatever side you are on pro, con, there needs to be a
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decision. and his women, and his health care, it is a a voting rights, and his students, the students cases have real consequences. i will conclude with one chart that deals with the length of the supreme court justices for the past 35 years. here you see the list of the various nominees, some of them made it, not all of these made it, couple didn't. here's the deal with these, o'connor waited 95 days, 92, scalia 92, darth 109, kennedy 113, souter 174, thomas 110, kennedy 113, souter 174, thomas 110, ginsburg 137, briar 114, roberts 90, so 97, kagan 118, under mitch mcconnell's plan, the republican plan they laid
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out you just heard me say if you average up all of this you get one oh two days, that is the average. 102 days under mcconnell's plan it would take 444 days. at best. that is assuming everything goes perfectly well. it could take a lot longer and what does this mean? anyone within the sound of my voice has heard this, justice delayed is justice denied. that is a fact. it is used throughout the country when we talk about the importance of making these decisions when our constituents go to jury duty, what are they told? tenney make this decision?
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any come to this decision? because everyone deserves to have an answer. so in conclusion, take a look at this, this is an abomination. this is the days we have seen in the last 35 years that it took to confirm 14 of our justices were confirmed in election years since the beginning of this country and this takes us back to the civil war days. imagine when we really had a country divided and this is not what we need to do right now. with all of these decisions that are coming up, regardless of your stand on them. people deserve justice and so i will conclude with the do your job chart. i have to tell you that is what it comes down to. i urge the people of this great
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country to call the republicans, every one of them with three words, do your job if the person answers say i don't know what you mean say do your job let the process move forward on the supreme court justice. if they say we want an elected president what will be told to them is we are fortunate, we have have one, elected not once but twice, more than enough time remains for him to do his job and more than enough time remains for us to do hours. republicans, do do your job. i yield the floor. >> mr. president i rise today to talk about the filling the vacancy on the supreme court of
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the united states. i appreciate the words of my colleague from california and i would would also like to begin by said that my prayers and thoughts are with the family and friends and supreme court colleagues of justice scalia. he was a great scholar who had friends in many places. i was just last week at the university of chicago law school where i went to law school and so many people have stories as they used to teach there for a long period of time. they miss him very much. mr. president, the supreme court has the constitutional responsibility to weigh some of the most important issues facing the american people. from freedom of speech to do process, to doing business in america. supreme court decisions have impacted and continue to impact the daily life of every citizen of this country. that's one of the three pillars of the government we value the court's distinctive installation of public opinion. justices
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commit commit themselves to the law and to the constitution, and not to politics or partisanship. americans need and deserve to have a functional and fully staffed supreme court. we cannot delay consideration of the next supreme court nominee, as my colleague just pointed out you would have to go back to the civil war to a time where position, an important t position on the supreme court of the united states was left open. you would have to go back to a time when it was left open for more than one year. you would have to go back to a time before we had planes, before we had automobiles. before we had washing machines, you name it. you have to go back to the civil war. delaying the confirmation of a new justice will prevent the court from issuing an deny access to justice for americans.
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lower courts will be left with decisions, decisions decisions will not be made and close cases and that is why the constitution of the united states, but says that the president shall, shall nominate. he shall nominate someone to the supreme court. it does not say he will wait for a year, it does not say he cannot do it an election year, it says he shall nominate someone. we have a lot of members of this great body that are lawyers, a lot of them i have heard quoting the constitution. a lot of them believe in strict interpretation of the words of the constitution. mr. president the words of the constitution say the president shall nominate in the senate's' job is to advise and consent. it says it's the senate's job, it doesn't say it's the senate's job to avoid things and go on tv and run ads.
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it says the senate has a job to do. the senate has a job to do. but the president and the senate have a constitutional duty to protect the supreme court's ability to function and have justice. not tell the supreme court what to do, not to dictate the decision but to make sure they're simply able to do justice. this means they must be fully staffed and have the justices in place. it also means they should be funded. those are our our jobs. according to our constitution the president replaces vacancies on the supreme court. that duty does does not end as i noted in the presidential year. just as duties of senators in their states and nation do not end in a presidential year.
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for 332 more days the president is the democrat elected president of the united states. democratic democratic elected as in a democracy, as in howard democracy functions. he has an obligation to all americans to dutifully execute his oath of office. the president has not yet announced a nominee to fill the current vacancy on the court, when he does it will be the constitutional duty of each one of us to consider the nominee on his or her marriage. then choose whether to vote yes or no. it's really not that hard. it's what the kids learn when they are taught social studies and civic lessons when they are in elementary school. the american people who voted for us and also those who do not vote for us expect us to do the job we were elected to do. regardless of the timing.
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a complete refusal to engage in the constitutionally required process before the president has even announced his nominee is it dangerous for a system of governance. it defies the word of the constitution. this chamber would be neglecting the key constitutional that duty if it prevented a well-qualified nominee from sitting on the supreme court. how do we figure out if someone is well-qualified? we have hearings, that is what we have been doing for decades now, we have hearings to figure out whether or not this person is qualified. that is how we advise and consent, that is how we do our duty under the constitution. it is for that reason that i urge my colleagues to continue the senate's bipartisan tradition of giving full and fair consideration to supreme court nominees. we have precedent for the senate
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performing this role in the final your presidency. most recently the present senate confirmed justice kennedy, some of his currently serving on the supreme court, someone who makes decisions every day, when was he confirmed? he was confirmed in the last year of ronald reagan's presidency. guess what? the senate was controlled by democrats. we had the exact opposite situation. we had the exact opposite situation. now we have a democratic presidency and we have a senate that is in the control of the republicans. back back then, we had a republican president and a senate that was in the control of the democrats. people say what what does history show us, what we know, to me that is the best example of history. do you know what happened? justice kennedy was confirmed on ronald reagan's nomination by democratic senate in an election year, unanimously.
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the senate has taken such action more than a dozen times in our nation's history is no reason to abandon that now. i'm talking here about whether justice, when there's a justice opening up during an election year. you have that precedent which is important, again i think the most important precedent that a most a port and an example of historians is what i read with the fact that you have to go back to the civil war to find a time when we left a vacancy on the supreme court open for a year. through world were one, through world war ii, before, through huge tumor oil in this country we always made sure we had a fully staffed supreme court. it would be unprecedented to denies supreme court nominee fair consideration in the united states senate.
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in the last 100 years the senate has taken action on every supreme court nominee regardless of whether the nomination was made in a presidential year. mr. president, it is now february which gives us plenty of time to consider and confirm a nominee. let's go to that next. when do we the time to get this done? i would submit that we do. we have hundreds of days and in fact the senate has taken an average of only 67 days, let's make it easier, two months, about two months that's the average since 1975 from the date of the nomination to the confirmation vote. two months. that means if the president offers a nomination in the month of march, that sounds like a good month to have a nominee, that nominee would receive a vote in the senate by memorial
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day. there's your two months. if you wanted to add a little time on will certainly do it by the fourth of july. a very good holiday for those that believe in the constitution and the words of the constitution. until we confirm a nominee the court is left with only eight justices. a split decision will prevent the supreme court from making critical decisions and leave lower courts without precedents to follow. a major responsibility of the supreme court is to resolve disagreements among lower courts. a failure of the president or the senate to meet its constitutional obligation because the supreme court to be unable to fill its constitutional obligation. the supreme court justices are not elected directly, they have lifetime appointments. their job their job is to be insulated from elections in politics and that's why we have a strict and
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straightforward words from the constitution that say that the president shall nominate someone for the job. they also say the senate should advise and consent. we have it in place, in the constitution and that important document that guides us in this chamber every single day. just for a situation like this one. in closing, i remind my my colleagues of the important work that the people have set up here to do. yes we have major disputes every day, that happens every day. we get into into arguments about issues, the political campaigns going on, but we have always at least follow the constitution. that is what this is about today. as soon as we have a nominee, as soon as the president exercises his constitutional duty and put someone in place, we should
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follow the constitution. it will still still be should issue a history of the country and uphold that duty by diligently considering the presidents nominee to be the next supreme court justice is a member of the judiciary committee, we must have the confirmation hearing, we must do our job. thank you and i yield the floor. >> washington journal, live every day with news and policy issues that impact too. tomorrow morning we'll talk about the state of the nation's water supply system and a proposed bill on water safety legislation. michael walden president of the brennan center for justice will be with us to talk live about his new book, the fight to vote. be sure to watch c-span's "washington journal" beginning live at 7:00 a.m. eastern tomorrow morning. join the discussion. >> and the obama
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administration's proposed 2017 budget the state department would be allocated 50,000,000,000 dollars. john kerry answered questions about his department's budget and a hearing of the senate foreign relations committee. he talked about he managed he talked about administering a programs, efforts to prevent climate change and security at diplomatic missions. this this is two and half hours. [inaudible] not on. [inaudible] [inaudible]
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>> the meeting of the former relations committee will come to order. we welcome everybody here i know many of us had a chance to talk to the audience in the hallway and we know that while we have great discussions we know that you will honor the committee by keeping comments to yourself while we are proceeding. i think think everybody on the committee for being here today and i want to thank our secretary for his service, i don't know of many secretaries of state that is put out as much effort in trying to solve the many problems that exist around the world and for that i think him. thank you for coming today and thank you for typically when we have a budget hearing the testimony that is put forth is only about the budget. i think you know hag

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